Board of Education Rosemary Smithfield Cipriano Vargas Debbie Morton Martha Alvarado Rich Alderson Board Policy Book
School Directory Charter School Authorizing and Monitoring Preschool VUSD at a Glance VUSD News Districtwide Events
Superintendent of Schools Educational Excellence Business Services Human Relations Innovation
Special Education Department Special Education Department's Parent Resources Special Education Department's Teacher Resources Common Core State Standards CURRENT INFORMATION FROM NCCSE IEP Brochures Parents Feedback and Flyers Positive Behavior Supports Program Spotlight! Special Education Assessment for Eligibility Special Education Eligibility Specially Designed Instruction and Related Services Special Education Task Force Extended School Year Brochures 2015
Blueprint for Educational Excellence and Innovation Community Forums Thought Leadership Collaborative
Welcome Parents & Families/Bienvenidos Padres y Familias Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Network Team College & Career DELAC Summer
Students WAVEpact
Employees Teacher Resources

News Item: Homepage

Career Technical Education Thriving in VUSD

by Ray Huard


Kelly McKinney is a woman on a mission: to ramp up the high school courses in Vista Unified School District that give students the training to go to work when they graduate or move on to college.


“We learned from the community that they’re asking for this,” said McKinney, who was appointed district Career Technical Education (CTE) coordinator in July. “The community said, ‘why don’t we have more of this?”


More is on the way.


The district this year added five courses to its CTE curriculum, including computer science, theater stage technology, medical terminology, and a medical course for students interested in becoming paramedics or emergency medical technicians.


Vista USD robotics students design and create machines as part of their CTE classes


CTE is the modern take on what used to be known as vocational education, McKinney said, but it’s been retooled with many CTE courses offering college credit at Palomar College.


“They can absolutely take this and go on to college, but not every kid is college-bound,” McKinney said. “CTE gives kids hands-on experience that can lead directly into a career.”

One thing that makes CTE courses different is that they’re taught by professionals who worked in the field before becoming teachers.


“These courses are not typical textbook courses, so you want kids to know what’s happening in the industry. It’s not theory-based, it’s practical,” McKinney said. “In order to be a CTE teacher, you have to have industry experience. You have to have at least three years of actual industry experience.”


Vista Unified offers about 52 CTE courses in the 2016-2017 school year, and about 2,200 students took a district CTE class in the prior school year, McKinney said.


The courses cover a wide range of subjects, from agriculture, culinary arts, and pre-engineering to video broadcasting, computer gaming and web publishing.


By taking a CTE course, students can get a taste of a career that might be of interest but not to the point that they’re ready to commit to it, said Michael Gomez, a CTE guidance counselor on special assignment.


“It goes both ways,” Gomez said. He’s seen students who found their passion through a CTE course while others might decide that a different career might better suit them. “It gives them that experience,” Gomez said.


Vista High School's award-winning Culinary Arts class is part of the district's CTE offerings.


As the field changes to adapt to current trends, the attitude toward CTE is changing, McKinney said.


“We’re trying really hard to change people’s thought process to think of this as a way to explore options,” McKinney said. “Right now, the buzz is that we need more CTE in the nation. It’s kind of a pendulum swing.”


Vista Unified’s drive to increase it’s CTE offerings comes as CTE is marking its centennial nationally, and February is national CTE month as school district’s across the country highlight their CTE programs.


“That’s kind of cool, that it’s been around for 100 years,” McKinney said.


Posted by: Dave Palmer, District Associate, Vista Unified School District Published:2/21/17
Audience: Homepage and Homepage